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Appeal filed in lawsuit over Baltimore city liquor board law

A former appointee of Gov. Larry Hogan to Baltimore city’s liquor board and a bar owner have filed an appeal in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that removes the governor’s ability to appoint members of that panel.

Douglas H. Trotter and Dale L. Watkins filed suit last May in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, alleging Senate Bill 1159 violated the state constitution’s separation of powers article. The bill, which Hogan allowed to become law without his signature, was meant to force the governor to appoint new members to the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners within 15 days or cede appointment authority to the mayor and Baltimore City Council.

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in July.

In their appeal, filed last week, Trotter and Watkins claim the case is a “challenge to a parliamentary dictatorship” and that in can be inferred from the law that the General Assembly “was dictating the appointment of specific individuals to the governor.”

The appellants are represented by Howard J. Schulman, a partner with Wright, Constable & Skeen LLP in Baltimore.

The case is Douglas H. Trotter, et al., v. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., et al., No. 1182, September Term 2016.

Hogan last week introduced legislation to reform liquor boards, including requiring lawmakers to submit formal, public nominations.

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